You remember 1998, don’t you? Bill Clinton used a White House intern as a marital aid, Microsoft faced antitrust allegations, and a bulkier Mark McGwire broke Roger Maris’s home-run record. Curious, then, that locally made Tommy’s Naked Soda — a company whose slogan is “We Have Nothing to Hide” — was founded that year. Tom Bleier — a Pittsburgh native proudly calling himself a Bostonian since his days at Tufts — started the company after what can be classified as a religious experience. “I remember as a real little kid, my father would love this generic, white-label, purple-writing, black-raspberry soda from Giant Foods,” Bleier recalls. “It came in a one-liter glass bottle and I loved it, but it was a rare treat.” It’s not so strange that a boy could love a soda. Grape Nehi, Cel Rey, and Maine’s own Moxie have inspired mythic beverage loyalty. It’s just that Bleier wanted to ratchet it up a level while still paying homage to the tonic classics. Such flavors as Bubbling Black Raspberry, Optimal Orange, and Clearly Cream — an old-school cream soda that’ll have Gramps dancing a jig — are made with sugar cane, not corn syrup, and have no artificial anything. “Most essences are clear,” says Bleier, “so to give soda color, you need to add something, which isn’t important to the flavor. Sugar is less refined than corn syrup. You take a sugar-cane stalk and you can taste the sugar. You take a corn cob, you don’t taste sugar.”
Further, Tommy’s Naked Soda is bottled in glass, cardinal for serious sodaphiles. No one’s expecting the average consumer to wax rhapsodic about soda the way the Wine & Cheese Cask guys do about Bourgogne blanc. But think of it like ice cream: do you want a scoop of Christina’s euphoric burnt sugar, or a gallon brick not even passable at a kid’s birthday party?
Available for $1.75 per bottle suggested retail at Darwin’s, Upper Crust, and New England Soup Factory. Visit tommysnakedsoda.com for more info.
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